Los Angeles Balanchine Presents the Balanchine Festival
February 1, 2013
Balanchine GOLD (March/April 2013)
and Balanchine RED (May/June 2013)
A celebration of George Balanchine’s life, choreography and his time working in Hollywood with performances of seven of his greatest ballets and discussions with noted dance critics, historians and répétiteurs of The George Balanchine Trust at:
Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center Royce Hall – UCLA
Valley Performing Arts Center – CSU Northridge Alex Theatre – Glendale
Carpenter Performing Arts Center – CSU Long Beach
Los Angeles Ballet presents its Balanchine Festival, celebrating the genius of the most important and influential choreographer of the 20th century. Extending over three months, the Festival centers on seven of Balanchine’s greatest ballets performed in two programs (GOLD and RED), presented at each of LAB’s five home theaters. Special Festival events will include discussions and interviews with those who worked with Balanchine, and an examination of Balanchine’s Hollywood years with screenings of his film choreography.
Los Angeles Ballet co-artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary assembled the program to represent Balanchine in his many styles and eras. Both Christensen and Neary danced with Balanchine’s New York City Ballet. Balanchine personally selected Neary to stage his ballets, and to become a répétiteur for The George Balanchine Trust. She has staged his ballets for major companies in America and internationally, including the Paris Opera Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Mariinksy (formerly Kirov Ballet) and American Ballet Theatre, to name a few, as well as for Los Angeles Ballet.
“Selecting only seven ballets from the rich trove Balanchine created over the decades was not easy,” Christensen said. Neary added, “Each of these ballets has a specific mood and reflects a distinct musical and choreographic composition and style. Each ballet also has stories surrounding its
creation, the music, and those who danced it, which will be part of the conversations that ticket holders can also experience as part of the performances.”
Balanchine GOLD includes La Sonnambula, a one-act story ballet with love, jealousy, murder and a mysterious sleepwalker; Concerto Barocco, one of Balanchine’s signature works set to Bach’s Concerto in D-minor for Two Violins; Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, a bravura duet set to what was the original music for the Black Swan pas de deux; and Four Temperaments, with music Paul Hindemith composed at Balanchine’s request and wherein the choreographer fused classical and contemporary movement to explore the medieval “humors” attributed to the human body.
Balanchine RED opens with another one-act story ballet, La Valse, where Maurice Ravel’s music is the backdrop for a young woman’s fascination with a sinister figure at a ball. Agon employs Igor Stravinsky’s score for a series of contests among the dancers, and Balanchine returns to Stravinsky for Rubies, the jazzy, exuberant center section of the full length ballet, Jewels.
George Balanchine, (or Mr. B as he was called by those who knew and worked with him), began his career in Russia, built his reputation as a choreographer at Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, then came to the United States where he established the School of American Ballet and built what became the New York City Ballet. But Balanchine also spent time in Hollywood, often choreographing for his then wife Vera Zorina. Balanchine’s time in Hollywood is one of the aspects of his career that will be explored by a rotating roster of guest commentators that includes arts journalists Lewis Segal, Victoria Looseleaf, and Sasha Anawalt, and Balanchine répétiteurs including Colleen Neary, her sister Patricia Neary, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell. During his life Balanchine selected répétiteurs authorized to stage his ballets. Since his death in 1983, The Balanchine Trust and its répétiteurs have continued to ensure the integrity of the staging of Balanchine’s ballets while introducing new generations to Balanchine’s legacy. (The George Balanchine Trust, established in 1987 with the mission of preserving and protecting Balanchine’s creative works, is the center from which the business operations relating to the licensing of George Balanchine’s creative output emanate. The Trust has the responsibility of disseminating and protecting the integrity and the copyrights of George Balanchine’s work in the present and for the future, and assigns répétiteurs to teach and coach Balanchine ballets around the world.)
“April 30, 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Mr. B’s death,” Christensen noted. “We had added two more theaters for a total of five home venues, and as Los Angeles Ballet was entering its seventh season in 2012-2013, it seemed the appropriate time for a festival to celebrate Balanchine’s genius and life. It was a happy coincidence when the Music Center announced its festival celebrating the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, L.A.’s Rite: Stravinsky, Innovation, and Dance.”
“Our Balanchine Festival fit like a glove with the Stravinsky festival,” Neary said. “Balanchine and Stravinsky were great friends and loved to collaborate. With Agon and Rubies already part of Los Angeles Ballet’s Balanchine Festival, we were very pleased with the invitation to perform those ballets this summer as part of the Stravinsky festival to honor both Balanchine and Stravinsky at the same time.”
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